Ernest Hornsby

CH/19796, Private, 1st Royal Marine Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry.

Missing In Action on the 13th November 1916 aged 19.

Thiepval Memorial, Somme.

Ernest was born on the 15th November 1896 the step son of James & Rose Marvel of 76 Albert Street, Stevenage.

A Wheelwright by trade he joined the Royal Marines in London on the 10th March 1915 and was initially attached to “D” Company. Following the completion of his training he embarked with the Royal Marine Brigade on the 5th December 1915 aboard the HMT "Northlands", which arrived in Alexandria on the 17th December. Ernest saw service with the Battalion during the withdrawal from Gallipoli and its move to France at the closing stages of the Battle of the Somme.

On the 13th November 1916, the first day of the Battle of Ancre, the British army were advancing along the River Ancre to capture Beaumont Hamel. The Royal Marine Battalion were in positions on the Varennes line, in preparation for an attack on the German trench systems near the village. There was a thick mist on the ground as the attack commenced at 5.45am, with the Battalion advancing in four waves. The German defences were very strong and every Company commander had been killed before the Battalion had reached the enemy front line.  The ground was very muddy and covered with shell holes which made progress very slow, enabling the German defenders to take their time and make good use of their weapons. Heavy machine gun and artillery fire caused havoc among the advancing British troops and it was estimated that 50% of the Battalion’s casualties occurred in No Man’s Land. Continuing machine gun fire between the German second and third lines resulted in further losses. It is not known at which point Ernest was killed but he has no known grave.

His names is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial, France. (Pier/Face 1A.)

Posted in .